Franz-Ulrich Hartl receives Otto-Warburg-Medal sponsored by QIAGEN
Sep 28 2009

Franz-Ulrich Hartl receives Otto-Warburg-Medal sponsored by QIAGEN

Award for research in cellular protein folding

Aachen/ Germany, 28 September 2009 - Proteins are crucial to nearly all processes in living cells. With his research on protein folding the German scientist Franz-Ulrich Hartl, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, created the cornerstone for an important field of biological and medical research. He showed for example that the "molecular chaperones", a class of specialized molecules present in every cell, are necessary for proteins to fold correctly. They guide proteins to form their proper structures efficiently by preventing them from going off-path and aggregate. In case of malfunctions during the protein folding severe neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington's chorea or Parkinson's disease can be the result. A decline in the capacity of cells to fold their proteins efficiently is observed during aging and may facilitate the manifestation of neurodegenerative diseases. Professor Hartl will be awarded the Otto-Warburg-Medal for his work on 28 September in Aachen/ Germany. Sponsored by QIAGEN with an award of 25,000 Euros, the Warburg-Medal is the highest honor in Germany for biochemists and molecular biologists.

Proteins are the basic components of life. Their structure is flexible and they can build various tridimensional shapes. This steric order of the chain-like molecules, their folding, is of major importance. Some of the smaller proteins fold into their right shape spontaneously as soon as they are synthesized in the cell. Larger proteins with more complex structures, however, need external support during the folding process - otherwise they clump together with other proteins into aggregates.

Hence, nature developed molecular assistants, a specialized class of proteins scientist call "molecular chaperones." These chaperones shield other proteins from harmful influences during the folding process and prevent their aggregation. Disturbances of these mechanisms can have dramatic consequences: Alzheimer's, Huntington's chorea and Parkinson's disease are some of the clinical conditions resulting from faulty protein folding and aggregation. During aging some of the cells in our body produce less efficient chaperones. The consequence: incorrectly folded proteins accumulate and disturb a variety of key cellular functions, including many essential signalling processes.

„The discoveries of Ulrich Hartl revolutionized our view of biochemical cellular processes," underlined Professor Nikolaus Pfanner, President of the Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (in German: Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie (GBM)). „His findings are now textbook knowledge, but they are not abstract theory. To the contrary, the restitution of normal chaperone function could add to the treatment of many diseases in the future and possibly also influence the ageing process."

„We congratulate Ulrich Hartl on his award. His research was a catalyst for invaluable progress in the biochemical field, but also in many related sciences," emphasized Dr. Birgit Jostes, Senior Global Director Marketing and Strategy at QIAGEN. „As a leading provider of sample and assay technologies, we are proud to support outstanding researchers with this award and with it the development of new medical examination and treatment methods."

  The award

Professor Ulrich Hartl receives the Otto-Warburg-Medal on Monday, 28 September, at 6 pm at the Rhenish-Westfalian Technical University Aachen (in German: Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH)). The award ceremony will take place at the international conference „Signal Transduction and Disease" ( Following the ceremony, Hartl will lecture about his work.

The Otto-Warburg-Medal, sponsored by QIAGEN

The Otto-Warburg-Medal had been awarded since 1967 by the Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (in German: Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie (GBM)). The prize recognizes and fosters pioneering efforts in the area of biochemical and molecular biological basic research on an international level. Findings from these disciplines can form the basis for the development of innovative medical treatments. The Otto-Warburg-Medal is considered the highest German honor for biochemists and molecular biologists. So far five of the laureates also have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Since 2007 the Medal is endowed with 25,000 Euros sponsored exclusively by QIAGEN. You'll find further information about the award at

About the GBM

The German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) is the largest professional association for the life sciences in Germany. With its almost 5,500 members, it is committed to serving the interests of all those working and researching in the dynamic and promising disciplines of chemistry, medicine and biology - from professors to first-year students. Whether it is the German Research Foundation, journalists, the authorities, or professional associations in other disciplines: anyone needing to call on expertise in questions of biochemistry and molecular biological sciences turns first and foremost to the GBM. Further information about GBM can be found at


QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands holding company, is the leading global provider of sample and assay technologies. Sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from biological samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are used to make these isolated biomolecules visible. QIAGEN has developed and markets more than 500 sample and assay products as well as automated solutions for such consumables. The Company provides its products to molecular diagnostics laboratories, academic researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and applied testing customers for purposes such as forensics, animal or food testing and pharmaceutical process control. QIAGEN's assay technologies include one of the broadest panels of molecular diagnostic tests available worldwide. This panel includes the first FDA-approved test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer. QIAGEN employs more than 3,150 people in over 30 locations worldwide. Further information about QIAGEN can be found at



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